Review: Charli XCX ‘Sucker’

 Charli XCX easily dominated the hearts of young adults across the world in 2014 with her sassy attitude that gave pop, dance and punk artists a run for their money. Underneath her bubblegum coated vocals, she’s proved to be a strong and independent female artist.

After hopping on Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” (which both were top 10 hits no doubt thanks to her), Charli XCX began her mainstream breakthrough with her The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack lead single “Boom Clap”.

Instead of continuing with mellow yet still bold pop, she quickly introduced the side of herself that initially had indie music bloggers raving; her “no fucks given” attitude alongside some seriously catchy electro punk-pop, which returned on “Break The Rules”.

And it caught on.

Several promotional singles, lyric videos and performances later, and the album release finally rolled around. Charli put in some effort to show her creative side, cranking out performance after performance. Seriously, her promotion for this album really couldn’t have gone better.

“Boom Clap” was the main song featured in a movie watched my millions of young, potential buyers (June 2014’s The Fault In Our Stars) and reached No. 1 on the US Radio chart (No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100), “Break The Rules” is went top 25 at pop Radio, and her single “Fancy” with Iggy Azalea shifted millions of copies and hit No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and the US Radio chart. Her promotional singles “Gold Coins”, “Breaking Up” and “London Queen” all shifted several thousand units in their first week and helped build up hype.

But how does the album sound as a whole?

Well, in honest truth, it’s about as loud, mouthy and straightforward as anything could possibly be. Sucker captivates by putting Charli XCX’s glitzy personality in front and relying on edgy lyrics and even edgier beats to carry it through. On the title track, Charli XCX lets the words roll right out, dropping f-bombs and using other risqué lyrics, which pair nicely with a slicked up rave breakbeat, courtesy of producers Justin Raisen and Jerry James.

The album’s second single, “Break the Rules”, starts off with a slow simmering electro beat, which quickly morphs into a glimmering, synth based progression as the chorus climaxes. The final beat drop is full blown electro, with pulsating beats that match the style and care of Charli’s chat like “Na na na”. In this case, Stargate tried to produce a beat similar to Charli’s style instead of having Charli morph to his liking.

On tracks like “London Queen” and “Breaking Up”, Charli uses quirky, punk’d beats that highlight her carefree voice. Not only do they feel like nostalgic throwbacks to the 1980s (even for people that weren’t around during that era), they’re sharp tongued and oh so fiery fierce.

In contrast, songs like “Boom Clap” and “Doing It” (my two favorites apart from “Break the Rules”) see Charli relying on synth based, 80s pop beats to represent the opposite side of 1980s music. While both punk and pop blur lines several times across Sucker, Charli makes sure that they are distinct as well as evident by the middle portion of the album.


Elsewhere on Sucker, Charli XCX shines on other stand outs “Need Ur Love” (which is almost indescribably brilliant) and “Gold Coins”, the latter of which successfully blends punk, pop, electro and hip-hop elements into a stellar, bite sized product.

Due to Charli’s quirky nature, some of these songs (maybe the entire album) could easily be written off for being too off putting and what not. But that’s the beauty of it. Underneath Charli XCX’s explicit material and uniquely shaped voice, there’s something really interesting being created.

Sucker really is an exquisite album that is unlike any other. On it, we find synth’d pop gems, electronic dance floor anthems, punk numbers and electro-hip elements, all of which are set to the brooding backdrop of the 1980s decade. The whole album is a cohesive vision, which thanks to “Fancy” and “I Love it”, will be more recognized than your average indie pop album. The only real fault I can find is the lack of “SuperLove”.

Best Tracks: “Break the Rules”, “Doing It”, and “Gold Coins”
Rating: 7/10

Charli XCXPop

cdschart • February 27, 2017

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